Recent trends indicate a significant decline in the number of students graduating from Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs in the US. The under-representation of students of color, females and low income students in STEM programs has also been documented. Design Based Science (DBS) instruction has been suggested to improve the problem solving skills of students of color.The present study employed a quasi-experimental pre-post-test research study. Four equivalent parallel high school traditional Chemistry classes of eighty two (82) 10th and 11th grade students was invited to participate in this study. The treatment group comprised of 36 students while the control group was made up of 46 students.The purpose of this study was to investigate whether DBS affects student problem solving competency and chemistry achievement across student demographics (gender, race and SES). The research questions were: 1) Does DBS have any effect on the problem solving competencies of students in a high school traditional chemistry class? 2) Does the effect of DBS on problem solving competency depend on gender? 3) Does the effect of DBS on problem solving competency depend on race? 4) Does the effect of DBS on problem solving competency depend on SES? 5) Does DBS have any effect on the chemistry achievement of students in a high school traditional chemistry class? 6) Does the effect of DBS on chemistry achievement vary depending on gender? 7) Does the effect of DBS on chemistry achievement vary depending on race? 8) Does the effect of DBS on chemistry achievement vary depending on SES? 9) Is the problem solving competency of students in a traditional chemistry class predictive of their chemistry achievement?The findings are as follow: a) DBS significantly improved the problem solving competency of students in the study, b) DBS significantly improves the problem solving competency of both males and females, with a slight urge among females, c) the differences in the effects of DBS in improving problem solving competency among Black and Hispanic students in this study was not statistically significant, however, Black students and Hispanic female students showed significant improvement in problem solving competency after the DBS instruction, d) DBS did not statistically significantly improve the problem solving competency of students of particularly SES group(s), and e) Problem solving competency is a strong predictor of higher chemistry concepts score among students in both treatment and control groups.
Education and Human Development
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